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Future Ready Logo

Dropout Reduction: Prevention, Intervention, and Recovery

State Dropout Reduction Activities

MassGrad (High School Graduation Initiative)

In fall 2010, the U.S. Department of Education selected Massachusetts as just one of two states for the federal High School Graduation Initiative award and one of 29 projects total nationwide chosen for funding out of 184 total applicants. The Massachusetts grant project (MassGrad) focuses on the 133 high schools throughout the Commonwealth that exceeded the statewide annual dropout rate of 2.9 percent in the 2008-09 school year. Massachusetts will receive $15 million over the next five years through the MassGrad project to support statewide and local efforts for high school dropout prevention, intervention, and recovery. The Department released a press release in early November 2010.

MassGrad Key Activities:

Dropout Prevention & Recovery Work Group
MassGrad Implementation and Planning Awards
MassGrad Coalition Challenge Awards
MassGrad Gateway to College Start-Up Awards
MassGrad Leadership Council

College & Career Readiness and Learning Supports and Early Learning (OLSEL) Units

There are no state funds currently available for general dropout reduction use, however, the Department's College & Career Readiness and Learning Supports and Early Learning (OLSEL) Units coordinate a number of grant programs that support student engagement and success in partnership with districts, community colleges, and other organizations to help students succeed in school and be prepared for higher education, rewarding employment, and responsible citizenship. All of these programs can be a useful part of a district's comprehensive strategy to raise graduation rates and students' readiness for college and employment.

Early Warning Indicator System

Massachusetts currently has in place an Early Warning Indicator Index (EWII) for grade 9 students that indicates their risk levels for not graduating on time. The Department is also developing and Early Warning Indicator System (EWIS) to identify students kindergarten through high school that are potentially "off-track" for grade-level or developmental age.

Graduation and Dropout Prevention and Recovery Commission

In August 2008 the Massachusetts State Legislature passed An Act to Improve Dropout Prevention and Reporting of Graduation Rates, which established a Commission to make recommendation on 10 topic areas. The Commission included representatives from a variety of youth-serving state agencies, the state legislature, and community organizations. The Commission work was also shaped by testimony at three public hearings. The Executive Office of Education released the final Commission report in October 2009. The Commission report, Making the Connection, provides findings and recommendations in four main areas: 1) new statewide expectations; 2) early identification; 3) effective prevention, interventions, and recovery; and 4) responsive reforms and budget priorities.

Strengthening the Field of Alternative Education

Alternative Education pathways to high school graduation are universally acknowledged pillars of a viable and effective response to the dropout crisis The Department is working to enhance the field of Alternative Education across the Commonwealth through annual trainings, including regional networking events and state conferences. The Department recently released an Alternative Education frequently asked questions and promising practices document, and continues to work toward increased sharing of promising practices across the state.

In the 2007-08 school year, the Department added an Alternative Education data element to Student Information Management System (SIMS) to increase knowledge about Alternative Education in Massachusetts through new methods. The increased capacity in SIMS will provide the Department important student-level information within each Alternative Education program/school. The Department will also use these data to increase targeted technical assistance and to promote and replicate promising practices in the Commonwealth.

Online Courses and Modules for At-Risk Students

The overarching purpose of this project was to contribute to a statewide system of online learning options for all students, and courses and materials created through this project will be shared with the Department for ongoing use. These grants targeted projects that worked collaboratively with the Department to create, implement, and evaluate online courses/modules for underserved high school students in alternative education, credit recovery, or credit acceleration programs. The grantees created over a 100 high school-level courses and modules that are now co-owned by the Department. The Department intends to share these courses and modules free-of-cost with other districts in the Commonwealth.

Massachusetts High School Case Study Project 2015

ESE commissioned RMC Research to study and profile three of the high schools that have made steady progress in increasing high school graduation rates and decreasing high school dropout rates: Malden High School, Turners Falls High School in the Gill-Montague School District, and West Springfield High School. The purpose of these case studies is to provide information for other school districts on promising strategies to support dropout prevention and increasing graduation rates. The three high schools were selected to maximize the variation in geography, high school size, and student body demographics. Each of the high schools has a range of effective strategies.

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Massachusetts High School Case Study Overview 2015
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Malden High School Case Study 2015
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Turners Falls High School Case Study 2015
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West Springfield Case Study 2015
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Malden High School Artifact – Dropout Prevention Checklist
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Turners Falls High School Artifact – Individual Learning Plans
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West Springfield High School Artifact – Outreach Team Protocol
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MA Case Study Tool – Section I – Human Resources
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MA Case Study Tool – Section II – Programs and Strategies
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MA Case Study Tool – Section III – Infrastructure
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MA Case Study Tool – Section IV – Partner Connections
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MA Case Study Tool – All Sections


Last Updated: December 24, 2015
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